Every writer whether our contemporaries or long gone has wrestled for hours when they can’t string seven words together into a concise sentence. We doubt ourselves, our mentors, the process we thought we’d perfected, even the quality of beans that went into our cup of java. It happens to the best of us.
I think most writers have an intuitive grasp of what backstory is – simply put, it’s everything that happened before your story opens that has a potential impact on your characters or on their journey.
To truly understand your characters and the growth arc they must experience, to understand them in such a way as to make them real to your reader, they first must be real to you. And in order to accomplish this, you need to explore those people and events from their pasts that molded them into the persons they are in the ‘today’ of your story.
Many of you know from reading my blog post in early July that I love to ride my bike. I want to go touring, get a chance to see new places, meet new people, and share God’s love when he provides the opportunity. Plus, I can see turning my experiences into some great fiction. My quest started a year ago, and at first, bike riding wasn’t easy. I struggled to ride 15 or 20 minutes and it took time to be brave enough to cross major roads and highways.
The older we get, the more valuable our life experiences to others. We also become a little smarter. The events that formed us into the people we are today are our spiritual legacy. Our increase of wisdom comes with a downside. Aging means we have to be more focused on what we write. How do we choose the path best suited for our personal interests and unique personalities? Some writers prefer poetry, greeting cards, children’s works, magazine articles, screenplays, fiction (and the various genres), nonfiction, or something in between. Your attention may be drawn to entertaining a reader while others desire to guide or instruct.
We fiction writers chase our stories like toddlers on a sugar-high. I’m one of them. I can dream and plan and plot all day long. Yet sometimes I get sidetracked.
For writers who live and breathe their addiction but have a problem staying on task, I’m offering a twelve-step program call Story Chasers (SC). These are writers who want to be called authors but don’t want to do the work. If any of these descriptors fit you, consider your career choice. Writing fiction may not be for you.